Here's what to do...just in case…Floodwatch

Deidre Cruse

Sandbags available

The parish Department of Public Works began distributing sandbags Friday (May 13) at the parish maintenance facility on Bayou Road and continue daily – including weekends -- from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. until further notice, Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said.

Sandbags also will be available to Iberville Parish residents only from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at various locations around the parish.

The parish already had 10,000 laid in as a precaution during the last hurricane season, Ourso said. He ordered 30,000 more as a precaution for this emergency.

Two crews of inmates from Hunt Correctional Institute and one crew from the Iberville Parish Jail prepared additional sandbags all day long today at the parish Department of Public Works, he said.

Sandbags are available at the Bayou Pigeon fire stations, Bayou Sorrel fire stations, Old Ragin’ Cajun site at Bayou Pigeon, The White Castle Fire Station on La. 404, the East Iberville Fire Station on La. 30 at St. Gabriel, the Maringouin Maintenance Barn on Second Street in Maringouin, the Grosse Tete Maintenance Barn at 18125 Willow Street in Grosse Tete, the Old Depot at 15201 Depot Street in Rosedale, and at an empty lot next to the White Castle Police Department in White Castle.

Report Sand Boils

Maj. Johnny Blanchard of the Iberville Sheriff's Office said it is important for anyone who sees sand boils anywhere near the levees to report them immediately so they can be sandbagged.

Jail inmates sandbagged at least 30 sand boils found on a drainage ditch in the Bayou Goula area near Point Pleasant on last Tuesday (May 11), Blanchard said.

Water pushing through sandy ground can ultimately weaken the levee system, he said, but the situation is easily cured – when they are sandbagged, they close back in. They look like small volcanoes with water, one official said.

Emergency Preparedness Director Laurie Doiron said residents should report sand boils to the regular telephone number at her office, (225) 687-5140, unless it is an emergency situation, such as a house flooding. In an emergency, they should call 911.

The parish is posting river state information at ibervilleparish.com/parish-alerts/.

Levee traffic banned

To prevent damage, all vehicle and pedestrian traffic has been banned from the levees, as has any construction or digging within 1,500 feet of them.

Law enforcement officers will issue citations to any one caught on the levees.

The Iberville Sheriff's Office, the Plaquemine Police and other local agencies are helping to patrol the levees. ?Louisiana State Police along with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be patrolling affected areas throughout the state for potentially dangerous situations and motorists and/or boaters creating a hazard.?

Anyone who sees unsafe drivers or situations on the levees can report it to the Louisiana State Police at *LSP (*577).

Avoid flooded roadways

With the opening of the Morganza Spillway, the state announced that some 18 miles of La. 975 from U. S. 190 through Pointe Coupee, Iberville and St. Martin parishes would be underwater.

The state Department of Transportation and Development advised motorists to turn around and find another route if they come across any flooded roadway.

Water that appears to be shallow could hide dips in the road, or the fact that the roadway has washed out completely, DOTD said.

DOTD also cautioned that a food of water will float many vehicles, that six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles and cause drivers to lose control of their cars or cause their cars to stall out, and that two feet of rushing water can sweep most vehicles away. A motorist should abandon a stalled car, climb to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.??

Information on road construction or detours is available at the State Police’s the motorist information system at "511" or at  www.lsp.org.??

Stay out of the floodwater

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals warned residents to stay out of floodwaters, as they may contain waste from sewage treatment systems and disease-causing bacteria, as well as snakes, rats, alligators or other animals – and certainly don't drink them.

Anyone who has been in contact with floodwaters should shower with soap and water is sufficient. There is no risk for hepatitis A, typhoid or cholera. ??

Those who live in any area that has flooded or lost power to a private well should boil their water before drinking it.

“Assume everything touched by floodwater is contaminated with bacteria and will have to be disinfected,” the department advised.  “People are advised to wash their hands frequently during cleanup and always wear rubber gloves.”

Report wildlife problems

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be available to respond to situations involving wildlife species that move into populated areas or become stranded by high water. ??

Wild animals not posing a threat to humans should be left alone and should not be fed, as that would encourage them to remain to remain near a new food source rather than find natural habitat and food sources on their own. Residents also should avoid areas where displaced wildlife has taken refuge and avoid roadways near flooded areas, the department advised.

Assistance with black bears forced into populated areas by floodwaters is available by calling toll free 1-800-442-2511.

Assistance with these species or others that endanger human health or safety is available by calling LDWF field offices in Baton Rouge at (225) 765-2800. They include alligators, snakes, deer and feral hogs

 Report price gouging

Louisiana's price gouging laws went in effect following the emergency declaration issued because of the threat of flooding, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said.

Price gouging occurs when a seller prices merchandise much higher than is reasonable or fair. The price-gouging statute prohibits merchants from raising prices above the pre-emergency levels unless there is a national or regional market commodity shortage.

This means that gasoline, petroleum products, hotels, motels, and retailers are prohibited from raising prices during this state of emergency unless they incur a spike in the price of doing business. The price gouging laws carry both civil and criminal penalties.

This state of emergency extends from Thursday, April 28, to Saturday, May 28, but extended or ended earlier. Suspected price gouging can be reported to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 800-351-4889.

Business help available

The Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LA BEOC), an annex to the State Emergency Operations Center, is now partially activated to prepare for Mississippi River flooding.

State officials are encouraging businesses to register with the LA BEOC portal - www.labeoc.org - so that they can participate in the process and have a voice in the state's preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

The LA BEOC provides timely and official information of importance to registered businesses before, during and after a major event. This includes notification of state and local decisions pertinent to business recovery and employee safety.

Registered businesses, in turn, can provide on-the-ground intelligence related to the status of their business. By reporting problems directly to the LA BEOC, businesses can help public sector officials prioritize recovery operations.